The Right QuickBooks Edition for Your Small or Mid-size Business

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QuickBooks is accounting software that offers several versions designed to fit the needs of most small or medium-sized businesses. All versions of QuickBooks offer tools for routine accounting that simplify tracking income and expenses; more advanced versions provide features for managing contractors, setting prices or tracking inventory.

Whether you're a sole proprietor or you have a huge payroll to manage, there's a QuickBooks version to aid you in your accounting process. Its online accounting software includes one level for freelancers, called QuickBooks Self-Employed, and four levels for small business, from simple to advanced.

QuickBooks also offers two desktop versions, called Pro and Premier, for one to five users; a desktop version for Mac computers; and a desktop version called Enterprise that can handle 30 users and up to a million customers, vendors, and inventory items.

QuickBooks Online Self-Employed

This version of QuickBooks is designed for freelancers. It allows you to:

  • Track income and expenses
  • Organize receipts
  • Estimated taxes
  • Invoice clients and accept payments
  • Track miles
  • Run basic reports.

An important note regarding the Self-Employed version: If you start with this version, you cannot upgrade to any other plan. You must start with one of the small business software versions below to be able to upgrade to a different plan.

QuickBooks Online Simple Start

This edition is intended for small businesses and sole proprietors. You can easily upgrade to other QuickBooks versions as your business grows. It offers everything the self-employed version does, plus the following features:

  • Send estimates
  • Track sales and sales tax
  • Manage 1099 contractors

QuickBooks Online Essentials

The next level of the online software includes the features from Self-Employed and Simple Start, plus the following:

  • Manage bills
  • Track time
  • Include three users

QuickBooks Online Plus

The third level of online software advances the following features in addition to what is included with the previous edition:

  • Include five users
  • Track project profitability
  • Track inventory

QuickBooks Online Advanced

The top-level of online access provides all features from the previous three editions, plus you can:

  • Pay bills
  • See smart reporting
  • Accelerate invoicing
  • Create custom user permissions and custom fields
  • Receive priority customer service and training

All online plans include app integration, customer support via tutorials and online resources, payroll add-ons (price based on self-service or full-service plus per-employee cost), and a 30-day free trial.

QuickBooks Desktop Pro, Pro Plus and Mac

The desktop editions of QuickBooks are installed on your computer instead of accessed online. They don't include software updates unless you pay for the Plus version, which requires a yearly subscription fee.

Desktop Pro costs a one-time payment and includes the following features:

  • Track inventory
  • Track sales and sales tax
  • Send invoices
  • Manage bills and accounts payable
  • Track income and expenses

Desktop Pro Plus requires a yearly fee and includes the software with features mentioned above plus unlimited customer support, data backup and recovery, and access to software updates.

QuickBooks for Mac is similar to Pro, although not exactly since it offers some features optimized for the Mac platform (although QuickBooks' website doesn't specify which features these are).

Pro and Pro plus enable export to Excel and integration with Outlook; Mac enables export to Apple Numbers software, as well as the ability to later convert to Online or Windows software.

QuickBooks Desktop Premier and Premier Plus

The Premier level of QuickBooks' desktop software, which requires a one-time payment, includes all of the functionality of QuickBooks Pro plus the following additional features:

  • See industry-specific reports
  • Create sales orders
  • Track costs for products and inventory
  • Customize inventory reports
  • Support up to five users

The Premier Plus version, as with the Pro Plus version, allows unlimited customer support, automated data backup and recovery, and access to the latest software updates. It requires an annual subscription fee as well.

QuickBooks Desktop Enterprise

QuickBooks Enterprise edition is the most powerful version of QuickBooks. It is designed for medium to large businesses, especially those that are expanding to multiple locations. With Enterprise edition, you'll find the following:

  • All QuickBooks Premier features, with enhancements to some of those features
  • Support for up to 30 users
  • Tracking for up to one million inventory items, customers or vendors.
  • Priority customer service
  • Advanced inventory and fulfillment tools
  • Automated pricing rules

The Enterprise edition is also the most expensive offering from QuickBooks, but the company offers full refunds within 60 days for anyone not satisfied with the service.

Live Bookkeeping

QuickBooks also offers a Live Bookkeeping option, which provides a certified bookkeeper who sets up and reviews your books for a monthly fee. Live Bookkeeping is available with the QuickBooks Online plans.